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The Ashmolean – Proud to Play our Part in Oxford’s Remarkable History

The Ashmolean museum, at the University of Oxford, is the world’s oldest public museum and one of Europe’s most popular cultural tourist destinations. This is where you’ll find Oxford University’s legendary art and archaeology collection, visited by more than 850,000 people every year.

As you can imagine, the historic building needs constant care and attention to ensure it delivers the welcoming atmosphere the Ashmolean prides itself on, and meets the expectations of visitors. And this continuous refresh involves making sure essential lighting systems are man enough for the job.

The team at the museum has recently upgraded the lighting system in its gallery spaces and installed more than 1500 Concord Beacon Muse spotlights. When it came to redesigning the lighting scheme, the aesthetics and performance were equally important, as Harry Phythian-Adams, Executive Officer, Director’s Office at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, explains.

“We required a solution that provided the same lit effect as halogen but also delivered a better uniformity of light whilst bringing the vibrant colours in the galleries to life. Concord was able to adapt the Beacon Muse to meet our needs perfectly: it changed the colour temperature of the spotlight to 2700K warm white with colour rendering index of typical 97 and also provided us with a customised white bezel to better suit our interior décor.”

The project was instigated by Robert Gregg from Oxford University. The Ashmolean team worked with Concord to design the fittings, which were installed by Monard Electrical and commissioned by Ben Acton at Hoare Lea Lighting.

We installed Concord Beacon Muse spotlights at a high level within the space, positioning them in a way that reveals the forms and details of the diverse collection to perfection. The spotlights feature warm, high colour rendering LED bulbs, with the beam angle adjusted according to the effect required for each exhibit. As Harry Phythian-Adams says, “The lit effect of the Concord Beacon Muse is great but we are also impressed with the energy savings we have seen. Due to the unique design of the product, in addition to the LED energy savings compared to the previous Halogen lights, less heat is emitted and we have been able to reduce our air conditioning usage and save on our energy costs.”

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University College Oxford – Safety systems and lighting upgrade

115 Banbury Road, Oxford – Completed summer 2018

When University College bought the building at 115 Banbury Road, part of the works we carried out for them involved installing essential safety systems. We handled the emergency lighting and fire alarms as well as upgrading the lighting throughout the premises.

After initially testing and proving the circuitry, we worked closely alongside Pyrotec to install the fire alarm system and make it visible from the main site lodge via a smartwatch system. We upgraded and altered all the lighting to take energy-efficient LED luminaires and, where required, fitted emergency lights. We also installed the wiring for CCTV and access control as part of the project.

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University College Oxford – Testing electrical installations

Electrical testing – An ongoing project

We were appointed by University College Oxford to carry out electrical installation condition reports, also called periodic testing.

The University’s works department has a really good schedule which lays out exactly when their buildings are to be tested, and we work closely with them to carry out the tests.
Like all Colleges around the University the emphasis is on the students, so we have to co-ordinate our work so it doesn’t affect their studies. This means we have to be completely flexible as well as sensitive to the areas we need to test and the needs of University personnel.

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Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Lighting Refurbishment Project – Completed 2014

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History houses precious scientific collections of zoological, entomological and geological specimens, widely known for its amazing displays of fossils and dinosaurs. Among its most famous features are the Oxfordshire dinosaurs, the dodo, and the swifts in the tower. The Museum itself is a Grade 1 listed building, renowned for its spectacular neo-Gothic architecture.

Monard was the main contractor for the main court's lighting refurbishment, responsible for a major upgrade of the existing perimeter lighting plus the installation of new architectural lighting for the newly-refurbished cast iron and glass roof.

We worked closely with Robert Gregg of University Estates Services and Zumtobel throughout the design process, as well as a joint project developing a system of unique bespoke magnetic mounts for fixing luminaries to the iron pillars, working closely with the Ashmolean Museum.

While the interior scaffolding was in place for work on the glass roof, the delicate cabling operation took place. Cables were sensitively placed so they wouldn’t interfere with the fabric of the building, while still providing enough power to illuminate the vast interior spaces.

Now the museum now has a state-of-the-art DALI lighting control system. It lets museum staff set different lighting according to the time of day, and for different events and exhibitions. The controls can be activated via mobile devices, making it effortless for staff to magically illuminate the museum at the swipe of a finger.

Photography: Redshift Photography

Praise for Monard’s work

Here’s what some of the people involved said about our involvement in the project.

“We could not have achieved this without the obvious commitment, passion and pride in the project displayed by the whole team, and I illustrate this with just one example – 4000 wiring terminations on the project and not a single, solitary loose connection or fault – extraordinary”

Robert Gregg, OUES Electrical Engineer

“I would like to express my gratitude for the professional way in which the Monard team managed and carried out this project. With Monard’s wealth of experience working in heritage environments, the team showed the sensitivity and awareness needed when working in a museum and a Grade 1 listed building.”

Professor Paul Smith, OUMNH Museum Director

“It was a pleasure to work with Monard in developing the innovative and creative lighting solution finally achieved in what is such a unique iconic building within Oxford. Working within a Grade 1 listed building with such a rich tapestry of history, has without doubt been an excellent experience and learning opportunity for all concerned. The final result would not have been possible if hadn’t been for the pride, passion and attention to detail shown by the entire Monard Team, hence the final result is second to none
and one for which they should all truly be proud”

Steve Downie LSC (Dipl.). Lighting Solutions Consultant, Zumtobel Lighting Limited

In the press

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The Ashmolean Museum Broadway

Refurbishment of a 17th Century property into a Museum – Completed 2013

Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum is the first public museum to open in Britain, respected for its focus on quality research and development and part of the University of Oxford. In 2010 the Ashmolean took the opportunity to work with Worcestershire County Council and other local stakeholders to transform the 17th century former coaching inn in the Cotswold village of Broadway, known as ‘Tudor House’, into a new Museum – The Ashmolean Museum Broadway.

The building itself underwent a major physical refurbishment to ensure every aspect met the highest museum standards. The work took several months and involved skilled contractors to install the new electrical and security systems, which had to meet national museum standards. Just like the Arts and Crafts Architect, C.E.Mallows, who carried out the last major refurbishment in 1908, we carefully maintained all of the building’s beautiful, fascinating listed features.

The historic house itself has its own history and stories, so the objects for display were chosen from the Ashmolean collections, expanding on the themes of the property itself and keeping a local Cotswolds relevance. The museum opened to the public in autumn 2013 and achieved the accolade of being the most significant cultural contribution to Worcestershire in a generation. You can see more here, on the museum’s website (link to )


Praise for Monard’s work

“With such a sensitive and important project, the Ashmolean knew it had to use a well trusted and experienced contractor to oversee the extensive refurbishment works. The building needed rewiring and a substantial security system upgrade in order to meet the National Indemnity Standards for museums. Monard can also claim to be the first company to install a fire alarm system into this property, which has an age of over almost 400 years!”

Victoria McGuinness, Ashmolean Museum Project Manager (2007-2014)


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Christ Church – Cathedral Lighting – An ongoing Project


Back in 1998 we installed the Cathedral lighting at Christ Church. In 2019 we we were brought back in to upgrade and update the ageing system, which was no longer suitable for the environment. The solution was a complex phased lighting refurbishment.

Phase I works involved isolating and removing the North Aisle capital lights and the North Transept Clerestory lights before installing new LED lighting along with emergency lighting. We installed bespoke enclosed LED tape around the capitals of the North Aisle, high powered LED spots on the Clerestory of the North Transept, converted the Stall lighting in the Latin Chapel and installed high powered spot lights in the Watching Loft.

We carried out wiring using MICC cables and FP200 cabling, predominantly installed around the containment route on the Clerestory where a special harness and equipment was required for mobility. All the new lighting is scene functionable, with every circuit Bluetooth controlled via the Cathedral operator’s tablet.

Phase II works involved isolating and removing the lights in the South Aisle, the Choir Stalls, the Nave and the underside of the Organ Loft, then installing modern lighting to replace them. We incorporated the new lighting into the existing emergency lighting system using change over and hold off relays, and the same type of LED tape was installed around the capitals of the South Aisle.

We installed high powered spot lights on the Clerestory level of the Nave and recessed spot lights to the underside of the Organ loft. And we upgraded all the Nave Choir stall lighting from hot, inefficient halogen lamps to cool, high powered LED chips, with incorporated Bluetooth dimmer modules as an integral part of the circuitry.

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Christ Church – Kitchen Works


Installing new Mains Infrastructure – Completed 2017

We were appointed by Christ Church to supply and install a new submain and distribution system to the kitchen’s existing electric system.

The kitchen range was due for an upgrade from gas to electric, which was going to affect the power consumption of the electrical system thanks to an insufficient existing supply. The work therefore involved installing 2no 240mm2 4core LSFSWA cables from the South Substation, through the grounds of Christ Church via excavations and through the fabric of the building, all the way to the Chef’s office.

The new cable was terminated into a new Panel board, upgrading the whole of the distribution. To avoid disrupting the kitchen, we carried the work out one circuit at a time to ensure the room always had power. We also installed new submain circuit cables to various pieces of equipment.

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Christ Church – Electrical Installation Testing


Testing electrical installations – Completed 2018

We were appointed by Christ Church to carry out electrical installation condition reports, essential periodic testing. The work involved close liaison with the Clerk-of-the-works department to programme and arrange varous areas for sequencing.

The building’s sheer size means testing takes just over a year to complete, and we have to work closely alongside every department at Christ Church to ensure there’s minimal disruption.

The kitchen is particularly busy, as is the catering department, and the testing work was about as tight and complex as it gets. We only had a three hour daily slot in which to do the tests, but our lead test engineer programmed in all the works with the C.O.W and Head Chef to a satisfactory level.

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